The theme for my writers’ group over the New Year is ‘an overheard conversation’- this is my flash fiction response. The part about Foreign Aid is a conversation I’ve heard more than once!

Parvati stands in front of the frozen food compartments with her mobile phone pressed between her shoulder and ear. Her voice carries but she isn’t shouting.
“Do you want crinkle or chunky chips?” After barely a pause she leans into the iced chasm and fishes out a large bag of chunky chips.
“Can you check to see if we need more peas?” Another microsecond pause and she brings out a large bag of frozen peas which she dumps unceremoniously into her nearly full to bursting shopping trolley. As she pushes it to the next isle she becomes aware of someone trying to catch her attention by waving her arms from the textile section.
“Hi Parvati – looks like you’re nearly finished.”
It’s her friend, Helen who gives her a quick hug.
Parvati hurriedly drops her phone into her red handbag. Helen is speaking, “Have you heard the latest? River View’s flooded again – water’s about a metre deep in numbers 8 -20.”
Parvati nods and says she is glad she lives on a hill. Helen continues.
“You know what gets me – all that foreign aid – it’s ridiculous all those millions could be spent on proper flood defences. And guess what? The Flood Minister’s spent Christmas in Bar-bloody- Bados!”
Parvati’s face contorts briefly in empathy and she jabs her finger for emphasis –
“I’d stop most of the foreign aid – I mean for all we know it could be going to fund ISIS. Anyway, India doesn’t need Aid – there’s too much corruption there!”
“Exactly – and you should know, eh Parvati?”
The two friends push their trolleys between the Dairy produce and the Ready Meal isles. Parvati heads for the Asian Food section and Helen follows.
Parvati points to a jar of curry mix. “Have you tried the Tikka Masala Paste? – it really does the job.”
Helen smiles and spits out a few more nuggets.
“I thought you’d be more authentic; why choose Pataks all the time? You should try the Bangalore Biryani Mix – look it’s on Special Offer.”
Parvati reaches for a jar of the Biryani and places it in her trolley.
“Well that’s me finished. See you Helen. Let’s hope the storms pass and we can get back to normal.”
Parvati heads towards a checkout while Helen continues her weekly shop.

PARIS SUMMIT – Is it too late?

london flooded

I thought I’d combine the seasonal trappings with the Paris Summit.

To be sung to the usual tune!


Fa la la la

We all know the sea is rising –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Polar ice is surely melting –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Keep on burning fossil fuels –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Turn our backs on clean renewals –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

No more polar bears on telly –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
It is raining so bring your brolly –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Bangladesh is sinking slowly –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
We forgot that life was holy –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

We are heading for extinction –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
All because of air pollution –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

The sky above is growing darker –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
The next to go will be Gibraltar –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Tis the season to be jolly –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
But let’s reflect upon our folly –
Fa la la la la, la la la la.


The Bare Bones


A recent poem based on a childhood memory.


They never lied to me – my parents:
Santa Claus wasn’t real and tooth fairies
didn’t exist. The guinea pig that died
didn’t go to heaven. I remember
holding my father’s hand in a museum,
gazing in disbelief, once the secret was out,
at a dog’s skeleton, a bird’s and a frog’s.
At seven my first occult knowledge;
a treasure I carried inside me.

A human skeleton was the jewel
wrapped up in a balaclava and raincoat.

Inside, where it was warm, I took it out
and learnt by heart each part – humerus,
radius, femur, pelvis and patella – counted
all the ribs to see if any were missing;
learnt that 24 vertebrae made up a spine
that kept me upright. A hinged framework
for nerves, arteries and softer innards.

When I looked at my mother and father
I knew they were hiding something.